Swhirling Squares: A Simple Math Flip-Book Animation

Douglas McKenna
Proceedings of Bridges 2010: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2010)
Pages 255–262 Regular Papers


The PostScript programming language is integrated with a mathematically elegant, 2-D drawing model. Using a very simple PostScript template file, one can quickly introduce students to programming, mathematical, and aesthetic concepts, requiring only a simple text editor and a standard graphic file previewing application. In particular, geometries parameterized by time lend themselves to creating algorithmic art in the form of an animated PDF “flip book.” A simple project, based on little more than generalizing the drawing of graph paper to make squares rotate relative to themselves in various ways, proved visually and intellectually captivating to students.